Aim: Care based on the Newborn Individualized Developmental Care and Assessment Program (NIDCAP) has been reported to exert a positive impact on the development of prematurely born infants. The aim of the present investigation was to determine the effect of such care on the development at preschool age of children born with a gestational age of less than 32 wk.
Methods: All surviving infants in a randomised controlled trial with infants born at a postmenstrual age less than 32 wk (11 in the NIDCAP group and 15 in the control group) were examined at 66.3 (6.0) mo corrected for prematurity [mean (SD)]. In the assessment we employed the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence-Revised (WPPSI-R) for cognition, Movement Assessment Battery for Children (Movement ABC) for motor function, subtests of the NEPSY test battery for attention and distractibility, and the WHO definitions of impairment, disability and handicap. Exact binary logistic regression was employed.
Results: There were no significant differences between the intervention group in Full-Scale IQ 93.4 (14.2) [mean (SD)] versus the control group 89.6 (27.2), Verbal IQ 93.6 (16.4) versus 93.7 (26.8) or Performance IQ 94.3 (14.7) versus 86.3 (24.8). In the NIDCAP group 8/13 (62%) survived without disability and for the children with conventional care this ratio was 7/19 (37%). The corresponding ratios for surviving without mental retardation were 10/13 (77%) and 11/19 (58%), and for surviving without attention deficits 10/13 (77%) and 10/19 (53%). Overall, the differences were not statistically significant, although the odds ratio for surviving with normal behaviour was statistical significant after correcting for group imbalances in gestational age, gender, growth retardation and educational level of the parents.
Conclusion: Our trial suggests a positive impact by NIDCAP on behaviour at preschool age in a sample of infants born very prematurely. However, due to problems of recruitment less than half of the anticipated subjects were included in the study, which implies a low power and calls for caution in interpreting our findings. Larger trials in different cultural contexts are warranted.